Friday, 30 January 2015

The best laid plans...again

In the Big Storm a couple of weeks ago, a Big Tree fell into Newhall Burn and smashed into Newhall Bridge, thus damaging the link between our part of the Black Isle and Mount High, where I have been enjoying my trail runs.  With the bridge intact, it takes 5 minutes by car to get to the woods.  Without the bridge, the long way round takes upwards of 30 minutes, and I don't see the point in driving 30 minutes for a run that will take only a little longer than that.  (And before any bright spark says why don't you run there...because it's a loooong and steeeeep uphill trek to get there, and I can't be arsed.)
The inconveniently damaged Newhall Bridge source
So most of my runs have been on the road since the bridge came down, which is fine, but as today's blue sky and relatively milder temperature made me think longingly of off-road, I bravely sought out a different trail. Actually, it's the other end of the trail that I usually run; it's still only a 5 minute drive away, starts from the woods near Springfield and on my map, it looked like there was a forestry road leading into the woods (just like at the Mount High end).  I arrived in good spirits and set off on what was intended to be a nice, easy 4 miles.  Ha!  I laugh in the face of my optimism...

The forestry road turned out to be a narrow, muddy, wet, icy path skirting the edge of a field.  I put on my trail runner persona and tried to pretend that I didn't mind my feet sinking ankle deep in the mud, but the truth is that I did mind.  Plus, I was running into the sun and the glare from the ice and snow made it too hard to see where the rocks and even the edge of the path were, so I walked.  I crossed a raging burn on a dilapidated foot bridge, briefly cheered up into a run on the path covered with soft pine needles on the other side, then engaged in a bit of creative cursing as I tried to figure out how to climb across the very substantial tree that had fallen across the path.  Then I ran for a little way further before coming to a standstill at a long stretch of deep, muddy, icy water.  I inched my way along the side of the water by clinging to the barbed wire fence that lined that section of the path, then ran again briefly before being stopped by huge, overgrown, waist high bushes with 2-inch spikes that blocked the path.  I eased my way through them but ow ow ow ow - not nice at all.

Eventually, I ended up where I had planned - the forestry commission trails - but by that point I was so irritated and annoyed by my wet feet, aching ankle, punctured legs from those bastard bushes, and all of the walking that I contemplated running to Mount High (which was maybe 2 miles from where I was) and then making my way home on the road so that Bassman could give me a lift back to my car.  But trail runners never give up...

I ran one mile into the woods, crunching my way through the snow that was still on the ground.  I ran one mile back to the start of the muddy, icy, spiky-bush-infested path and thought again about taking the easy route to Mount High.  I asked myself what I was going to do if things were unpleasant underfoot during the Grasmere Gallop - was I going to sulk?  Was I going to want to give up and go home?  Was I going to walk because it wasn't easy?  Mmmmm, probably...but trail runners carry on in the face of insurmountable odds.  So I carried on too.

And funnily enough, the muddy, icy, spiky-bush-infested path didn't seem nearly as difficult on the way back.  I ran most of the way (except for when I clung to the barbed wire fence again) and quite enjoyed splashing through the water and mud.  I finished back at my car with a smile on my face and not sure why I had been fussing so much on the outward route.

I'd even go so far as to say that I'd use this route again but next time, I'm taking my secateurs so that I can clip back those bastard bushes.  Muddy and wet feet, I can cope with.  Legs that look like I've used them for a pin cushion, not acceptable.

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